What Do We Owe God?
1, 2. (a) What conditions existing in Christendom indicate how the majority of the people feel about obligations to God? (b) What do those in official positions in Communistic countries think about God?
IS MAN under any obligation to give something to God? What do we owe God? Obviously the created intelligent man must consider himself indebted to his Creator, Jehovah God, in some way. But does the average person today give God what is due? In Christendom’s leading nation one prominent religious leader lamented: “What has the life of the average Christian become, in the average church in our average society? It consists of attending church one service per Sunday . . . being a member of one or more of the church social clubs besides belonging to some ‘lodge’ or other, loyalty to which often conflicts with loyalty to the church. If he is a fairly conscientious church member he tries to keep abreast of his financial obligations to the church. He makes his children go to Sunday School. He does not pray other than during church services. He very rarely reads his Bible except in church . . . His family very rarely meets together to pray or to discuss Christian matters. He is tragically ignorant about his Christian beliefs.” Meanwhile in western Europe the London News Chronicle reported: “The Gallup Poll discovered some time ago that on two Sundays in August and September not more than 12 per cent of the men in Britain and not more than 18 per cent of the women had gone to church.” And some west European lands report a much lower percentage of church attendance than Britain’s.
2 So the average person in Christendom’s many lands may attend church at times or goes to a temple or synagogue occasionally, but he knows relatively little about his religion and appears to be absorbed with business or social contacts and the pleasures of life. We hear people say, “I go to church.” Often they feel their obligations end there, showing little or no concern for the Bible or studying it. Some say they live by the Ten Commandments or the “golden rule,” but they seldom stop to pray or thank God for anything they have received. A good number do not bother about church or worship at all and feel they want to ‘be free to do as they please.’ In an apparent effort to justify their indifference to spiritual things men will raise questions as to whether there is a God at all. Some deny God exists. In this century Communism has come to dominate many lands and puts forth strong efforts to advance the theories of atheism. In the Soviet Union, following the sending of the satellites and rockets a comparatively short distance into space, Soviet atheists have proclaimed their idea that “if supernatural beings really existed they would long since have been detected by powerful means of scientific research. The fact that satellites and rockets have not detected the All-Highest, angels and so on, bears testimony against religious convictions and strengthens disbelief in God.” But are these the words of sensible men?
3. What have some leading scientists said about God?
3 True science stands behind the fact that God exists. His creation is proof. This is acknowledged by men of science. The famed scientist Einstein, testifying to the existence of God, said: “It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity; to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe, which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifest in nature.” “I cannot believe that God plays dice with the cosmos.” The noted dean of American scientists, Dr. Robert A. Millikan, a Nobel Prize winner, in an address to a meeting of the American Physical Society at Washington, D.C., declared: “There’s a Divinity that shapes our end . . . Just how we fit into the plans of the Great Architect and how much He has assigned us to do we do not know, . . . But fit in we certainly do somehow, else we would not have a sense of our own responsibility. A purely materialistic philosophy is to me the height of unintelligence. Wise men in all ages have always seen enough to at least make them reverent.”
4, 5. (a) How can all men know God exists? (b) How was man made?
4 Not only honest, deep thinking and logic support the fact of God’s existence. The Holy Bible proclaims it, saying at Romans 1:20 that God’s “invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” All the marvels of creation are God’s proof to man of his supremacy and power. Whether man contemplates our mighty solar system and the galaxies of the universe or the small seed that, as it germinates, produces a tiny blade of grass that pushes aside heavy soil to reach sunlight, he is receiving evidence of the fact that God exists. Seasons come and go in a regular way as God ordained. What of the mystery of life itself? Yes, creation by God is the only sensible and satisfactory explanation to all we see about us. “The senseless one has said in his heart: ‘There is no Jehovah.’”—Ps. 14:1.
5 The living God Jehovah has not left himself in the mysterious unknown. He has provided the accurate history of creation, including the origin of man, in the first two Ge chapters 1-2 of the Holy Bible. Of man it is recorded: “And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) How was man made? To be a robot? Not so. He was created with a mind and free will to choose his course in life. The Bible says he was made in the image of God, being given some wisdom, justice, love and power. But the faculty of free will was a sacred trust to be used wisely by man.
6. (a) Is there a difference between the positions of man and the animals? (b) Do men always take the intelligent position?
6 Was man made just to live, to eat, to laugh, to cry, to sleep, to work, to reproduce after his kind? Animals live, take in food, reproduce and sleep. Man was made for a higher purpose. He was given reasoning, intelligence. Yet it would appear at times that some men do not do as well as the animals. In the history of the ancient nation of Israel there was a time when God spoke out about men, saying: “Sons I have brought up and raised, but they themselves have revolted against me. A bull well knows its buyer, and the ass the manger of its owner; Israel itself has not known, my own people have not behaved understandingly. . . . They have left Jehovah, they have treated the Holy One of Israel with disrespect, they have turned backwards.” (Isa. 1:2-4) Yes, a man will call to his dog and have the dog respond, but how many men respond to the words of God? The men of that ancient nation did not remember their obligation to the One who created them. They did not have the good sense to obey God. Who today would want the Creator to speak of him as less sensible than a bull or an ass?
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOD AND MAN
7. How does the Bible describe the relationship between God and man?
7 What was and still is the true relationship of man and his God? The Bible illustrates it in this way: “The word that occurred to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying: ‘Rise up, and you must go down to the house of the potter, and there I shall cause you to hear my words.’ And I proceeded to go down to the house of the potter, and there he was doing work upon the potter’s wheels. And the vessel that he was making with the clay was spoiled by the potter’s hand, and he turned back and went making it into another vessel, just as it looked right in the eyes of the potter to make. And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘“Am I not able to do just like this potter to you people, O house of Israel?” is the utterance of Jehovah. “Look! As the clay in the hand of the potter, so you are in my hand, O house of Israel.”’” (Jer. 18:1-6) “O man, who, then, really are you to be answering back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him that molded it, ‘Why did you make me this way?’ What? Does not the potter have authority over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for an honorable use, another for a dishonorable use?” (Rom. 9:20, 21) Every man’s heart should be filled with gratitude to God for being alive.
8. Why is it reasonable for man to listen to God’s instructions?
8 God not only had the right to make man as he wished, but as Creator God had the perfect right to fix rules for the functions of man that result to the good of the man. No one disputes the right of an inventor or constructor to set down rules of operation for that which has been made. If a company produces airplanes, does it not provide instructions on operation and care that the owner of the airplane must follow carefully for safe and satisfactory operation of the aircraft? Who is there who will say the company does not know what it is doing when it issues the operating instructions? Yet man does not want sensibly to pay attention to instructions provided by the Maker of man for the good of man. Adam was the first man, a perfect man, and even he was induced to go contrary to the rules for man, with failure to consider the Maker’s instructions resulting in his deterioration and death. Down to this day the majority of mankind fail to heed the instructions given by the Maker of man. What God set out in his Word to man was for the good of man, both physically and mentally. Abuses of the body and ignoring God have led man to added suffering, illness and unhappiness. Failure to follow God’s way explains in part why there are now so many mental and emotional disturbances among the human family.—Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:17-19.
9, 10. (a) In contrast to what Adam and Eve did, what does God desire to see mankind do? (b) What is duty?
9 It pleased God to make man perfect, but with freedom to choose. The strongest natural drive God put in man is the desire to worship. It is man’s duty always to choose to please and worship his Creator and to live within the rules set out by God. Adam and Eve thought they knew better than the Creator what was good for them. So they sinned. Thus death came to all mankind. Though this is well known, the majority of mankind still disobey the rules made by God for man’s good.
10 What did God expect to see in Adam and Eve? What does he expect of all mankind? Man is not left in doubt by God, for God has said: “I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Ex. 20:5) Jehovah gave man intellect and reasoning powers and he expects man to use these gifts correctly. Clear reasoning and wisdom will lead a man to dedicate himself voluntarily to the worship and service of Jehovah God, his Creator, because he knows it is right. Exclusive worship of Jehovah God is every man’s duty toward his Maker. Duty is conduct due a superior; it implies respect and obedience. The study of ethics shows that a course of conduct is a duty if abstention from it is evil. It is morally incumbent upon man to serve God; so his conscience is involved. We hear people speak freely of the duty of father or children in the family relationship, and duty of servants, doctors or ministers. But should not consideration be given first to the duty of man toward God?
11. (a) What kind of worship does God want? (b) Who really has faith?
11 God expects his human creatures on earth to move about intelligently, to worship him through faith and not with images as aids. Creation proves his existence. Beyond that, God has provided the written guide, the Bible, giving adequate knowledge of God. Use of images, according to Romans 1:18-23, proves a man to be both empty-headed and unintelligent. By combining the knowledge available through observation of the creation and study of the Bible a man comes to have faith, and it is worship of God based on faith that God looks for in man. “Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6) But how may a man know he has the faith that will please his Creator? Faith is not a hidden quality that has no manifestations. One can quite easily judge the strength of his faith by examining what he is doing with respect to God’s things. Is he doing the will of God as instructed in God’s written Word? In considering things done by Abraham and Rahab, James 2:14, 24, 26 puts it this way: “Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone. Indeed, as the body without breath is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
12, 13. (a) How do the Scriptures summarize man’s obligations toward God? (b) How is it possible for men to do these things?
12 Jehovah God leaves no question about what he wishes to see his human creatures doing. It can be understood by reading a few texts from your Bible: “What is Jehovah your God asking of you but to fear Jehovah your God, so as to walk in all his ways and to love him and to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul; to keep the commandments of Jehovah and his statutes that I am commanding you today, for your good?” “And you must love Jehovah your God and keep your obligation to him and his statutes and his judicial decisions and his commandments always.” (Deut. 10:12, 13; 11:1) “Only be very careful to carry out the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of Jehovah commanded you by loving Jehovah your God and by walking in all his ways and by keeping his commandments and by cleaving to him and by serving him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Josh. 22:5) “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?” (Mic. 6:8) “My son, do give your heart to me, and may those eyes of yours take pleasure in my own ways.”—Prov. 23:26.
13 But how, you ask, is it possible for a man to do these things? Logically, to be able to keep God’s commandments one must know them. This indicates the need for a careful reading of His Word the Bible. Knowledge is the basis of faith. It is man’s duty to show faith in God. Faith will help one produce actions that please the Creator. Persons of faith in centuries past have kept their obligations toward God, so we may have confidence in our being able to do likewise, and give God what we owe to him. The outstanding example of one’s giving God what is due him is found in God’s first intelligent creation. Who? Not Adam. No, but the Word, who became a man on earth. (John 1:1; Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14) Jesus Christ demonstrated to mankind how one pays what is owed to God. Please see the succeeding article.